Fans of the Wichita State University men’s basketball team are eager for the Nov. 6 season-opening game against Louisiana Tech at Charles Koch Arena so they can begin getting to know the newest crop of Shockers. WSU returns just three scholarship players – and only one who saw significant playing time – from last year’s 25-8 squad. The team graduated six seniors and lost sophomore point guard Landry Shamet to the NBA. Still, fans will pack the Roundhouse to rally for the team led by coach Gregg Marshall, who has guided the Shockers to nine straight 25-win seasons and seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
Here are five things to know about the 2018-19 WSU basketball season:
1. Mixing old with new
Six-foot-eight senior Markis McDuffie leads the team’s three returning scholarship players, who will be joined by 11 newcomers. Fans are hoping for a return of McDuffie’s swagger that earned him first team all-conference honors as a sophomore. His junior campaign was plagued by a stress fracture in his left foot. Among the most anticipated new players are freshman guard Jamarius Burton and sophomore forward Teddy Allen, a former Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year who transferred to Wichita State after playing his freshman year at West Virginia. WSU is appealing the NCAA to get Allen eligible to play this season rather than wait a year under NCAA transfer requirements.
2. Non-conference highlights
The 12-game pre-conference slate includes six home games, four neutral site contests and two road dates. The young Shocker team will be tested early with a stretch of four straight neutral court games in November – all of which could come against 2018 NCAA Tournament teams. Many expect the highlight of the home non-conference matchups to be the Saturday, Dec. 1 game against Big 12 foe Baylor.
3. Second year in the American Athletic Conference
In the pre-season poll, conference coaches picked WSU to finish eighth in the 12-team league. The 18-game conference slate kicks off Thursday, Jan. 3 at Memphis and concludes on Saturday, March 9 at Tulane. The highlight of the home conference schedule is the Wednesday, Jan. 16 matchup with Central Florida, which brings a senior-laden team that ranked No. 3 in the nation last season and is led by senior guard B.J. Taylor, expected to be the conference Player of the Year.
4. Always amazing home crowds
Charles Koch Arena, aka the Roundhouse, is one of the nation’s best places to play or see a college basketball game. It seats 10,506 and really gets rockin’ with loud, capacity crowds. Last season, WSU was one of just nine programs that sold out every home date and one of only six that did it in a venue larger than 10,000 seats, according to WSU. Over the past five seasons, WSU owns the nation's fourth-highest home winning percentage (.938, 75-5), trailing only Arizona, Stephen F. Austin and Villanova. During that span, the team has sold out all but three of its 75 regular season home dates at the Roundhouse. That includes a current streak of 21-consecutive sellouts.
5. Tickets are available
For the first time since before WSU's 2013 Final Four run, season tickets are still available heading into November. Fans interested in purchasing season tickets or single game tickets can call the Shocker Ticket Office at 316-978-FANS.